Hi guys, Piscean, your friendly neighborhood reviewer here.
I'm sure you all know why color is such an existential and important part of RWBY, but in case you didn't get the memo, here's the short version:
The Great War was fought over the concepts of slavery, freedom, hypocricy, and individuality expressed through the arts and entertainment, all of which contributed to the tradition of naming children after colors, an important aspect of art. Because of this, every character has to have a color association of some sort, even if some are sort of obscure. But, have we ever taken a closer look as to why some characters have a different approach to the same colors and different palettes? Here, I'm going to try and explain why the color palettes work, attempt to discuss real examples of the color scheme, and what they mean symbolicly. Most of this is speculation backed up with arbitrary evidence and lackluster opinions, so take it as you will, whether with a grain of salt, or wholeheartedly. Either way, let's begin, shall we?
Team RWBY's Associations
Ruby Rose - Ah, Ruby Rose, our central protagonist. Her color scheme and association is pretty simple, with red and black making up the majority of her palette, with a touch of silver from her eyes. Red and black are pretty common to find paired up, as both are bold and aggressive colors, similar to how she fights: aggressively and semi-haphazardly at times. In further association with this, these two colors are usually associated with warriors, with the [in-universe] significance of silver eyes holding a similar virtue to this claim. Ruby is often associated with the moon, seeing as how silver is reflective of the moon and feminine energy, whereas other characters have more masculine energies. A more subtle idea behind this involves her association with wolves, being Little Red Riding Hood, but also because the wolves howl at (you guessed it) the Moon. The Moon is considered very important by most people because of it's shattered state, which by extension refers to Ruby as important as well, which makes sense given she's the protagonist.
Weiss Schnee - Another pretty simple color association, with her main colors being white, ice blue, and little snaps of red (in her V1-3 outfit, at least), with darker blues added in more recent times. White and blue are associated with winter and the cold, which reflects some of her personality and her soft, more pure energies. White in general is a color of purity, cleanliness, and general hygiene, also reflective in her personality and interactions, being cold-hearted and lonely despite her best efforts. The snaps of red could also refer to her abilities as a warrior, as an aggressive color; or they could refer to her struggle and suffering to escape the tyranny she's been oppressed under for so long; or even her seeming default usage of anger and general bitchiness just to push away people she hates.
Blake Belladonna - Slightly more complicated, with her color scheme being a mix of black, white, purple, and some yellow. Black and purple together lend to her mysterious and enigmatic character, whereas the black and white associations refer to her more skeptical views concerning morality and devisive issues, usually taking longer to assess the situation before putting her opinion out there. Her past certainly reflects the middle ground between these two colors: gray, which refers to a lot of the moral choices she's struggled with for the longest of times. The fact that darkness is associated with black helps in this regard, too. The yellow in her eyes (known as amber in show, though I would attribute this as generally incorrect from a color standpoint) throws a bit of a wrench into all of this, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Yellow, gold, or amber eyes are a common eye color to see for evil villains in most shows (with RWBY being no exception), which means this reflects her morally ambiguous past and her inability to flee from it, as (just like her eyes), it will always be present.
Yang Xiao Long - Another more complex design for a more simple character, but just as important. Yang's color association is with gold / yellow, something that pops up in her designs a lot. Her color scheme reflects yellow, gold, brown, purple, and orange. Unlike Blake, however, most of these colors refer to her bright and lively personality, with these colors appearing in vivid shades. The yellow, orange, and gold represents the Sun, (along with her name), giving her a direct contrast with Ruby, who is associated with the Moon. Yang in Chinese philsophy refers to more masculine, lighter, and brighter energy associations than Yin, certainly representative of her personality. As a whole, yellow, orange, and purple are fun colors that represent a carefree nature, directly contrasted with the brown which functions as a palette equalizer (to help make the bright colors pop and simultaneously help relax the eyes a bit), but also symbolizing her slightly down to earth and motherly personality. Purple in this context also has expressions of femininity to contrast the masculine energy brought by the other colors, important to note with Yang.
So, to summarize, here's why these palettes work as a whole:
- Ruby's palette is simple (simple soul), with red and black being commonly seen together. Her color association is with red, which works perfectly with it. The black balances the brightness of the red and provides good contrast. The silver adds a small pop of a light color for an otherwise very dark design.
- Weiss' palette works because of her name and her associations being with white, a cold color. The blue is just another similar choice of palette which neatly blends with the white, with red being added for a little flair.
- Blake's pallete works both in a metaphorical sense because of her past and morality, and physically too, given that (with the exception of black and purple), all of the colors contrast / complement one another as complementary colors. The fact her name refers to black and a flower appearing in a shade of purple helps with this as well.
- Yang's palette works as a representation of her personality, and with her name referring to a "Little Sun Dragon", one could expect bright colors and a fiery personality. Not only that, but the gold and brown within her design serve to contrast the exceptionally bright colors and make her easier to look at, hence why most of her outfit is brown.
Tune in next time as I begin my discussion of JNPR's color palettes, their associations, and why they work. The link to the next one will be editted in as it comes out, so you'll be able to seemlessly go from post to post on the matter.
Until then, have a good one.
You can read the 2nd installment here: Part 2